Peaceful, Yet Startling “Come and Take It” Rally Brings 400 People With Guns to Alamo Plaza

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The only overtly racial sign at the Travis Park gathering. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

The only overtly racial sign at the Travis Park gathering. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

biopicVisitors and locals stopping by Alamo Plaza today were welcomed by more than 400 people – most armed with handguns, rifles and semi-automatic weapons. The armed force was making a very visible call for the City of San Antonio to repeal its open-carry firearm ordinance. [For more photos of the day's activities, see gallery below story.]

Despite the strong police presence in the plaza today, I was terrified.

I know that carrying a gun and a "Come and Take It" flag in public doesn't necessarily make you any crazier than a person in a suit armed only with their bare hands. But a gun in hand sure makes it easier for people to kill people, and tensions were high as a handful of anti-gun protesters made their way through the crowd. Many handguns were literally loaded. Thankfully all confrontations were verbal.

Alamo Plaza packed with people, guns, flags and slogans. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

Alamo Plaza packed with people, guns, flags and slogans during an anti-gun law rally. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

Two men who asked not to be named carried brooms over their shoulders like soldiers would carry rifles.

"We're just here to clean a little refuse of the street," one of the men said, feigning ignorance while talking to a man with a rifle slung around his shoulder and a "Don't Tread on Me" tattoo. Other pro-gun attendees laughed at the mockery and took pictures with the two men.

Two men holding broomsticks in mockery of gun advocates pose for a photo for a men carrying rifles. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

Two men holding broomsticks in mockery of gun advocates pose for a photo for men carrying rifles at the rally. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

Vendors sold shirts with pro-gun slogans, and it seemed every fifth person was handing out flyers about a political candidate or conspiracy theory.  Petitioners working to recall Mayor Julián Castro because of his support for the recently passed non-discrimination ordinance found a few new supporters and signatures.

While the main message of gun law repeal was clear, chaotic undertones were not far away, ranging from anti-gun law to anti-Obamacare. Equally mixed was audience demographic. All races, all ages, all stereotypes  – soccer moms, cowboys, hipsters, suits, etc. – were on hand.

Camera shy but not gun shy, a young girl gets comfortable in her father's arms at the gun rally in Alamo Plaza. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

Camera shy but not gun shy, a young girl gets comfortable in her father's arms at the gun rally in Alamo Plaza. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

In the middle of the crowd, a four-year-old girl sporting a pink plastic gun and holster, clutched her father's neck. She was slung around him like the grown-up rifle he carried on his own back. If not for the guns, they would have looked like any other father and daughter out for an afternoon stroll on the Alamo Plaza.

Every instinct in my body was telling me to leave. I'm just not used to seeing guns in public – let alone more than 400 in a public plaza. It made me think about how easy it is to get and carry a gun in Texas. There is no purchase permit, registration of firearms, or licensing of owners for rifles and shotguns in Texas. The sale of handguns is more tightly regulated. Carrying weapons in the open is not legal, in the city or around the state, and a concealed weapons permit is required for handguns. San Antonio's city ordinance bans any and all guns in public parks, public meetings, school events, and political rallies, parades and meetings.

"Captain America" at the gun rally in Alamo Plaza. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

"Captain America" at the gun rally in Alamo Plaza. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

Rally organizers worked with the SAPD to allow open carry for the duration of the rally at Alamo Plaza and subsequent sidewalk march to Travis Park where a second, more informal rally was held (sans sound system and stage of Alamo Plaza).

"Technically, on any other day, they could charge us all with misdemeanors," said C.J. Grisham, president of Open Carry Texas, one of several local chapters of organizations that regularly protest gun laws. Grisham was one of more than 10 scheduled speakers at Alamo Plaza including Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, various anti-gun law group founders and political candidates.

Anti-gun law rally participants walk to Travis Park. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

Anti-gun law rally participants walk to Travis Park. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

I found little solace in hearing from rally organizers that there were "mandatory chamber checks." Meaning, to comply with an agreement made with the San Antonio Police Department (SAPD), firearms could not be loaded and were supposed to have blocked chambers. I watched as several people crossed intersections, rifles strapped to their back, and entered the crowd without any interference.

"They've corralled us as much as they can to keep an eye on us," said Victoria Montgomery, public relations director for Open Carry Texas, speaking about  the more than 50 police officers on bikes, in patrol vehicles, and dressed in plain clothes who were in the vicinity. While Montgomery said she understood the need for police presence, but "I don't think it's necessary to this extent."

Police officers stand watch over the anti-gun law rally at Alamo Plaza. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

Police officers stand watch over the anti-gun law rally at Alamo Plaza. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

Just a few blocks down the street, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America hosted about two dozen advocates for tighter gun laws. A pair of police officers stood by.

Patrolman Harold Anderson stood with several other officers on bicycles across on South Alamo Street, visually surveying the swelling pro-gun rally.

As far as the no-bullet-in-chamber rule goes, "It's basically the honor system," Anderson said. "If any one points a gun at someone or holds it in an aggressive manner," they'll be removed and possible charged.

Citizens take to the megaphone during the less formal rally in Travis Park. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

Citizens take to the megaphone during the less-formal anti-gun control rally in Travis Park. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

The SAPD didn't expect any violence, he said, "but we to anticipate the worst. Our presence here is for the public."

Overall it was a peaceful rally of people and their guns that took place in downtown San Antonio on Saturday. It's fantastic that these organizations can exercise their right to free speech in such a public space. However, while it made for a great photo opportunity, I do find it strange that SAPD made an exception to the gun ordinance to allow loaded weapons on very public grounds during a very political rally – how often are exceptions made for ordinances involving public safety? Hopefully not often because I'm glad I don't have to walk though a sea of guns on a regular basis.

 

Iris Dimmick is managing editor of the Rivard Report. Follow her on Twitter @viviris or contact her at iris@rivardreport.com.

 

 

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35 thoughts on “Peaceful, Yet Startling “Come and Take It” Rally Brings 400 People With Guns to Alamo Plaza

  1. “Fair Whites for Freedom” sign in the background of the picture of the little girl in her dad’s arms. Uh huh. Not racist or anything. Not surprising, either.

  2. Hey, if the people who carried the broomsticks knew how to use them, the broomsticks would be just as deadly. This will pass and things will go on as they have been. Everybody move along.

  3. I went today out of curiosity.
    I’ve never seen so many guns!
    But it was not the weapons that troubled me.
    It was the people.
    White Supremeists, Nazis, Texas Nationalist Party Movement, Alex Jones, men in Black Suits, Infowars, Oathkeepers….
    Every racist hate group was represented.
    C.J. Grisham of Open Carry Texas calls the people attending the Rally New Texas Patriots.
    Who are these New Patriots? The Southern Poverty Law Center compiles intelligence reports. Start with “Meet the ‘Patriots”[http://tinyurl.com/newpatriots]
    Their roots go back to the Klan and John Burch Society.
    BTW, the man carrying a pro Ted Cruz sign, his gun was fake, carved from wood.

    I feel Jerry Patterson abused his position as Texas Land Commissioner by allowing this event be held at the Alamo, the first event ever held at the Alamo.
    He claims it was not to further his political agenda as Candidate for Lt. Governor, but that he was the event’s keynote speaker and claims he is Texas’s #1 authority on the 2nd amendment.
    What exactly are Patterson’s views on Hate? (Did his wife really carry an AR-15?)
    There didn’t seem to be as many police officers present as I expected. I’ve seen more at Luminaria and El Mercado during Fiesta.
    But after seeing the Police Officer filming the event from an upper floor window across the street, I suspected there were probably a lot more officers present, they were just where we couldn’t see them.
    It was a very peaceful event. Not very loud and more than half the participants had left before the tje March and by the time they arrived at Travis Park there were less than 100.
    It ended much sooner, and not as C.J. Grisham of Open Carry Texas (aka dontcomply. com) predicted and had been announcing on the radio & Internet over the previous days.
    Their agenda was to provoke and carry out a violent confrontation with SAPD as “payback” for the arrests of the 3 men at Starbucks last summer.
    Around 3:00 pm this afternoon SAPD announced they would cite those who are armed for violating the city ordinance banning weapons in city parks. There was some pouting, a few shouts, then the show was over.
    I was happy to see Chief McMannus on the Plaza. He appeared confident, friendly & relaxed.
    San Antonio is too laid back and friendly for this type of protest.

    It looked & felt more like a tourist event. A “I’m Cool” for a Day. For many, getting to walk around Downtown showing off some very fancy, expensive weapons. For a few, an opportunity to dress up in their Reenactment Uniform. And for one it was a homemade Super Hero costume. I saw Darth Vader on Austin Street, but he was unarmed.

    But the most alarming, damaging and only action accomplished was Petterson abused his authority as Land Commissioner to stage this event at the Alamo, heretofore any event was banned. Now he’s opened up the Alamo to any group or person wanting to hold a Rally, protest or Cake Walk on the grounds.
    When asked about breaking the ban he claimed “I’m not sure we have the lawful authority to say no, even if we wanted to,”
    This self proclaimed expert on the 2nd Amendment now must become an expert on the First Amendment.

    He’s violated the Shine of Texas Freedom, what it stands for and the memory of the men who gave their lives defending the Alamo.

  4. Typical for The Lib-vard Report. Emotion over facts. I knew when I clicked on the headline that this would be anti-gun.

    You felt uncomfortable because guns were around. The Constitution doesn’t protect anyone from feeling uncomfortable.

    • Yeah! Your right to not be murdered is worth much less than my right to murder you. Sorry if that makes you uncomfortable. Ugh, I hate how these liberals are all like “Don’t shoot people!” Ugh, how do they think we win wars?

  5. Is it just me, or is there something distinctly consistent about the demographic here. Hmmm… can’t quite put my finger on it.

  6. There were zero visible loaded firearms…. the only loaded weapons there were in the hands of police and the numerous rapid strike teams positioned surrounding the event. Almost all participants with weapons had bright red chamber indicators… knowledge is power and im afraid it is in short supply.

  7. I read what everyone has posted and understand their prospective. I say, “read more history.” Understand why we are America, understand how small farmers with muskets could defeat the mighty British 250 years ago, and we will not give that up. 400 showed up and a thousand more stayed home. That is not good for America. 14 hundred were predicted – 4 thousand should have shown up.

    Nearly 4 thousand have died in Iraq and nearly as many in Afghanistan. The right to bear arms. It is America. It is the United States of America. One needs to understand the history before making too harsh a judgement against our own citizens who want to protect that part of the constitution of our great country.

    • Yeah, dude, you’re totally right. Our right to bear arms IS uniquely American. No other first world country has over 35,000 Americans die every year, like almost NINE times as many as have died in the wars, from gun violence. Hahahaha! No other country would have 20 little kiddos slaughtered at an elementary school and totally fail to do anything about it because we love our little shoot-y toys so much! Hahahaha! AMERICA! #1 in school shootings!! #1 in child murder!

      But, man, if they took my guns away, I might feel like a powerless little sissy boy. I might realize that I have nothing else left in the howling void that is my life, nothing to justify my existence or comprise my character. I might realize that I’m afraid, afraid of my neighbors, afraid of the government, afraid of people of different skin colors, afraid of myself. But not with my guns! With my guns I am a BIG MAN! BIIIIGGGG MAAAN! COME AND TAKE IT!!!!!!!!

  8. Here is a point of etiquette that has been observed in our family since arriving in TX in 1826: REAL men (and women) do not strut about showing off their guns, acting like” Damned fools.”

  9. Why don’t you do some accurate reporting we had well over 1k people attend. Your entitled to your opinion but why the blantant lies?

  10. What trash “reporting” this is. If you don’t know what kind of weapon was being predominantly utilized at this event, why are you guessing? You’re a second-rate, at best, reporter who is only agenda-driven. Get a grip, lady.

  11. By “literally loaded”, you do realize no guns had an actual round in the chamber, right? Its against city ordinance to carry a long gun with a round in the chamber. Because of this, no rounds were chambered. You’re around concealed weapons every day with a round in the chamber, ready to go…but people showing up with guns in a safe condition is what worries you? You can be around a loaded, concealed pistol at the bank, some movie theatres, walmart, heb, riverwalk, and even the library….but this is what “scares” you?

  12. Leslie couldn’t even get the name of the gun right in her posted story-plus she threw in some fear mongering with her made up gun name. She may be a journalist but she’s far from reputable.

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